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Thursday, December 1, 2011

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Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Rita Hayworth, Tragic Princess

Readers, Rita Hayworth had something. And by something, I mean everything. This little girl from Brooklyn, exploited at the hands of her domineering father, forced to change her name and her hairline to get rid of her pesky Latinness, had the sort of beauty and verve that unite to form charisma. She’s gorgeous, but so are many classic Hollywood stars. What sets her apart is the alacrity in her eyes, the persistent bounce in her step — when you see her onscreen, it seems like everyone else is just sleepwalking.

But Hayworth’s story is also a tragic one: in addition to undergoing a very public and very graphic (and very literal) erasure of her heritage, she also endured mental abuse and manipulation at the hands of multiple men. But Hayworth also managed to galavant across the globe in the 1940s with a man who was not her husband — at the exact time when Ingrid Bergman was busy being denounced on the Senate floor as an “instrument of evil” for doing the same thing. And Hayworth’s man was not only not her husband — he wasn’t even Christian! HE WAS A ‘MOSLEM’! FROM ARABIA! (I am not making these words up — they were in the gossip columns.)

But because this man was a prince, and Hayworth would (hopefully, fingers crossed, please don’t show as pregnant before this happens) be made a princess, it was somehow forgivable. She had endured a life of transformation and heartbreak, all of it very much in the public eye, and so there were things that audiences wanted for her — happiness, a family, princess-dom — that made them willing to forgive pesky technicalities. But the lustre of royalty did not last, and Hayworth moved on: to a string of moderate hits, to more husbands, to relative obscurity.

But for a brief period in the late ‘40s, she was the closest thing America had to a Cinderella. 

Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino, in Brooklyn, to two showbiz parents. Her father, Eduardo, was a Spanish dancer; her mother, Volga, had been a Ziegfield girl. (Ziegfield Girl = Chorus Girl. Think ‘30s version of a Pussycat Doll.) Margarita’s grandfather had been a HUGE DEAL in Spanish dancing — he brought the bolero to American audiences — and it was he who gave Hayworth her first dance lesson at age three.

From then on, Hayworth was in constant dance training. Her family moved to Hollywood when she was eight, and her father began giving personal lessons to big studio stars. But the Depression tightened belts both in and outside of Hollywood, and dance instruction was one of the first luxuries to go. But Eduardo Cansino had a plan: he would make Rita his dance partner, and they could go dance in Tijuana clubs as “The Dancing Cansinos.” Nevermind that this arrangement suggested Rita to be her father’s wife — the pair was a HUGE HIT. And it was in one of these Tijuana nightclubs that Hayworth was spotted by a talent scout for Fox Studios, who quickly signed her, under the name Rita Consuelo, to a six-month contract.

But Consuelo was nothing special, at least not yet. She appeared in very small parts in a number of very small films, and at the end of her six month contract, Fox unceremoniously let her go. At all of 18, she eloped to Vegas with Edward Judson, a businessman-turned-talent-manager as old as her father. Judson helped land Consuelo a string of bit parts, eventually winning her a screen test with Columbia Pictures in 1937. Columbia signed her to a seven-year contract, but Consuelo spent her first months with the studio typecast as sultry, dancing (bit-part) Latinas. Columbia wanted a new star — someone to rival MGM’s glamour. But to turn Cansino into such a star, drastic measures were apparently necessary.

How do you de-Latinize a beautiful woman? Take away her widow’s peak. And get rid of her black hair. Cansino went into seclusion, underwent extensive hairline electrolysis, dyed her hair flaming red, and re-emerged as Rita Hayworth.

And so this woman:

Became this one:

What’s most remarkable about this transformation isn’t how blatantly racist it is. Rather, it’s that it wasn’t a secret. Columbia didn’t try to cover up what it was doing to its star; rather, they publicized the shit out of it.

As Adrienne McLean explains in Being Rita Hayworth (if you have any interest in Hayworth, or in star transformation in general, this book is an absolute must), Columbia collaborated with various publications to create an image for Hayworth as a Spanish dancer working hard to “overcome her type,” namely, that of a Spanish dancer. One fan magazine has Hayworth explaining “That’s one reason I changed my name... I didn’t want to be known only as a dancer.” She dieted, took voice lessons, dyed her hair, learned to act, and made a decision to always dress glamorously at all times. It’s as if Vanessa from Gossip Girl suddenly became a Blair/Serena hybrid.


Glamorous at all times FOR REAL.

Hayworth appeared, in short order, on the cover of both Look and Life, and became known for her “love” for the press — “Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, and Margaret Sullavan may appear in dungarees and polo coat and scowl at the camera boys as though they were boogey men, but not Rita. She gives them their money’s worth,” according to one fan magazine. More likely: Columbia told her to ham it up whenever possible because the studio, always a “minor" compared to the Big Five (MGM, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros, RKO), needed a glamour girl.

By 1940, there were 3,800 stories and 12,000 pictures of Hayworth in circulation. Girl was visible. Appearances in gradually more high-profile films — with Cary Grant and Jean Arthur in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), with Joan Crawford in Susan and God (1940), and a big hit in Strawberry Blonde with James Cagney and Olivia De Havilland (1941) — made it clear: Hayworth was a true star.

Throughout this period, Columbia labored to make it clear that Hayworth was not a dancer, because the Rita who danced was exotic, black-haired, doomed to type-casting, and a failure as a star.

But in 1941, Columbia loaned Hayworth to Fox for the role of Doña Sol des Muire, a “sultry Spanish socialite” who seduces bullfighter Tyrone Power in Blood and Sand. SPANISH HERITAGE COMES IN HANDY WHEN YOU NEED IT! But unlike her other films, in which Hayworth played the Spanish dancing lady because that was the only thing she could play, her role in Blood and Sand was sold in the spirit of masquerade. In other words, Hayworth showed that she could act Spanish, even though she was now thoroughly Anglicized.

The film was a smash, and Columbia cast her in a series of happy happy dancey dancey films with the master of the happy dancey films, Fred Astaire.


You’ll Never Get Rich and You Were Never Lovelier were ready-made hits, and Astaire, ever the exacting secret asshole, admitted that Hayworth was “a natural.” “She's constantly surprising me,” he averred. “Nothing is too difficult for her. She watches, goes home, practices up, and the next day she’s got it perfect.” I mean look at this clip (fastforward to about 1:25; make sure you stick with it to the end).

Here’s what you realize:
1. You want a dress that twirls exactly like that.
2. Fred Astaire was really quite skinny.
3. The dancing was filmed with four continuous shots — not the rapid cut and pasting of current dance films, which allow dancers to mess up and get edited to look good. Astaire and Hayworth had to dance perfectly — and uninterrupted — for minutes at a time. It’s a marvel to behold.
4. Rita was a really good wobble dancer.

(If you’re in the mood for something even sassier, tap-dance wise, go spend some time here.)

Hayworth may have lacked the slick grace of Astaire’s longtime partner Ginger Rogers, but what she lacked in polish she made up for in verve. There’s something about the way she flings her appendages that just screams ALIVE.



During this period, Hayworth became one of the most popular pin-ups for soldiers during World War II. To put it more bluntly: hundreds of thousands of soldiers regularly used her photo for masturbatory purposes between the years of 1941 and 1945. I mean, that’s what a war pin-up is, and we might as well say it: government-sponsored soft porn, distributed en masse to relieve sexual tension.

Remember how Morgan Freeman gave Tim Robbins Hayworth’s poster in Shawshank Redemption? There’s a Wikipedia entry entitled “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.” That’s how crucial she was to so many people’s narratives in the 1940s. And I mean, holy shit, look at the photo — it’s more than looking good in negligee, which she obviously does. It’s all about the expression on her face, a cross between a question and an invitation. And it’s that face — that ability to make each person who saw it seem personally invited — that differentiates the lingerie models from the stars, and that separates, say, Megan Fox sucking on her finger from Rita Hayworth in a coy kneel.

After years of enduring mental abuse and threats of physical violence from her first husband, Hayworth walked out on him in 1942, filing divorce on grounds of cruelty. He had stolen all of her money, but she was free. At least for a year, at which point she married Orson Welles, known, at this point, for his arrogance and brilliance.

The wedding was low-key — Hayworth wore a blouse and skirt — and surprised most of their friends. A suitable number of months later, Hayworth and Welles had a baby and posed for a lot of ridiculously cute photos.



I mean, what’s going on here?

Is Welles the bull to Hayworth’s matador? Or is Welles just f-ing crazy? It’s unclear, but what seemed clear, at least to the reading public, was that Hayworth had found happiness. Welles might have been a megalomaniac (and The Magnificent Ambersons, released the year before the marriage, had incited a high profile meltdown between Welles and his studio) but he had provided Hayworth with the necessary pieces for domestic bliss: husband, baby, home.

Between 1944 and 1947, Hayworth became one of the most valuable stars in Hollywood. She starred with Gene Kelly in Cover Girl and appeared in full Technicolor in Tonight and Every Night, which showcased Hayworth samba-ing in this obvious inspiration for the Princess Leia get-up.


And then there was Gilda. The plot for this film noir is somewhat throwaway, but it shows Hayworth at the height of her hotness powers, and I would gladly watch the other 109 minutes of the film in order to see these 11 seconds, immortalized all over the internet (and in my Twitter avatar):

Watch it on mute if you have to — just watch it. Because that fling of the hair, that raise of the eyebrows — “Gilda, are you decent?”

I DIE. I die a thousand Classic Hollywood beautiful deaths. There’s a pantheon of perfect moments in cinema, and this moment resides there, right between the moment when Paul Henreid lights Bette Davis’ cigarette in Now, Voyager and Claudette Colbert hikes up her skirt on the side of the road in It Happened One Night. (Feel free to add your own classic moments in the comments, but realize that this one wins by default.)

The film doesn’t need anything else but that moment, but it one-ups itself with Hayworth singing “Put the Blame on Mame.” TWICE.

Once all sad, sultry, and acoustic guitar sad-sack:

And again, all awesome and spunky and bringing down the house:

The primary purpose of these performances is to highlight Hayworth’s ability to wear the hell out of a strapless dress. I MEAN REALLY. (When asked what held up her dress during the scene, Hayworth’s reply: “Two things.”) But the song’s secondary purpose is more hidden: the “Mame” of the song is responsible for three of America’s most tragic disasters, and she essentially sparked each catastrophe vis-a-vis a love affair. Naturally, Hayworth’s character in Gilda, like Hayworth herself, destroys things — including herself — with her love. She doesn’t mean to; it just happens. Later that year, “Gilda” was inscribed on the first nuclear bomb tests post World War II in the Bikini Atoll. I am not making this up.

In 1947, Welles directed and co-starred with Hayworth in The Lady of Shanghai, marking the effective disintegration of the couple’s marriage. In hindsight, the film functions as a huge "fuck you": Welles made Hayworth cut her trademark auburn curls and dyed what remained an off-putting platinum blonde. The film took away Hayworth’s trademark skills — her ability to dance, to make her hair bounce, to move — that had typified her performances to that point. Welles was essentially renovating her image, with or without her consent.

The head of Columbia Studios, Harry Cohn, was furious. And rightly so: the film was a stink bomb, in part because it so clearly deviated from what had endeared Hayworth to audiences. Today, we call such a massive physical transformation an “Oscar Turn," but back then, it was an audience betrayal. To many, it seemed as if Welles was punishing Hayworth for her classic Hollywood-ness, attempting to exclude her from the mainstream in the same way that he had exiled himself.

Welles had become insufferable. Hayworth filed for divorce soon thereafter, explaining “I can’t take his genius any more.” Rita, I know the feeling. I can only take Welles in two-hour sections, so I can only imagine what it must have been like to spend the evening — let alone five years — at his side. Was he constantly thinking in terms of allegory? Were there sleds all over the house? Did he make you do radio plays in the basement with elaborate side effects?

And although their divorce was still pending, the third act of Hayworth’s life had already begun. Her next film, The Loves of Carmen, was a return to form, with Hayworth playing Carmen to Glenn Ford’s Don Juan. It’s somewhat ridiculous, but audiences flocked to it the same way they flocked to Julia Robert’s glorious return to form in My Best Friend’s Wedding after years of Mary Reilly against-type-ness.


How did they make her hair grow so fast?

And just as Carmen hit theaters, Hayworth was all over the gossip columns with a super hot new romance. In July of 1948, old biddie gossip columnist Elsa Maxwell threw a party on the French Riveria, at which she introduced Hayworth to Prince Aly Khan, son of Aga Khan, the ruler of “the world’s Ishamili Muslims.” Dude was bars-of-gold rich, known as one of the world’s “great lovers,” and conveniently separated (if not yet divorced) from his wife/the mother of his two sons. The two meet, totally make out, and start spending a lot of time to together in very public places, but insist nothing’s going on.

But let’s refresh. Here’s what we have:

1. One very wealthy prince, arguably available.
2. One very beautiful actress, arguably the most popular star in the world, and arguably available.

UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM . . . something was obviously going on.

After a few months of promoting her films up and down the Riveria, Hayworth returned to Hollywood. She found a script waiting for her, decided it sucked, and refused to report to set. Columbia put her on suspension, and she fled to Mexico, where BIG SURPRISE a Prince just happened to be waiting.

Naturally the gossip press went full-bore crazytime. And here’s where things get really awesome: the totally-not-a-couple holds a joint press conference in Mexico to staunch rumors of their relationship. The proof? They were both still married! They were totally just giving each other back rubs in Mexico!

I imagine this went over about as well as Brad Pitt’s avowals that he and Angelina were totally not having hot and heavy sex when he went to visit her in Africa. But then photos of Pitt making sand castles with Maddox on the African coast magically appeared, and the non-cover was blown.

For Hayworth and Khan, denial did very little. It was clear that the two, still legally married to others, were intimate. The press began to attack. Even when Hayworth’s divorce became final and Khan announced their intention to marry as soon as he was free, religious groups were threatening boycotts. Recall that this was early 1949 — just months later, Ingrid Bergman would be denounced on the senate floor for her affair with Roberto Rossellini.

But before any of the Bergman mess took place, things fell into place for Hayworth and her prince. Khan’s wife finalized the divorce, and the couple had a very royal wedding in May.


The Prince and Well-Bonneted Princess.

Fast forward a few months, and OH BIG SURPRISE, Hayworth is pregnant! Baby Khan is born seven months after the wedding date — a “preemie” that somehow looks FULLY GROWN! Amazing! But all rumors are quashed by the lovely fact that this baby, daughter of Rita Hayworth, half sister to the spawn of Orson Welles, just happens to be a princess.

As has proven true with so many gossip cases, the public verdict hinged on timing. Were Hayworth and Khan having an extramarital affair? Okay, maybe. But did they get married really soon and make it all pretty and bombastic and take pictures for the gossip magazines? YES! YES THEY DID! Was their child conceived before they were married? Most likely, yes. But they did get married, and the baby was born in wedlock, making the baby an authentic (not-exactly-totally-white, okay, fine, we’ll deal with it) princess.

But it wasn’t just the princessdom that made the public forgive Hayworth. She had gone through so much — manipulative parents, manipulative husbands, manipulative studios — and done it all in the eyes of the gossip-reading public. If you watched movies and knew anything about stars in the late ‘40s, you knew that Rita Hayworth had suffered her fair share. Just like today’s readers yearn for Jen Aniston to find love, the readers of yore hoped that Hayworth, who really just wanted a traditional romance and domestic happiness, to find the idyll she sought. Sure, the guy wasn’t white, wasn’t a Christian, and was still married. But he seemed to be offering happiness to someone who seemed to deserve it, which made their transgressions all the more forgivable.

Whether then or today, it’s all about the way a romance is sold, and the way a star’s image is situated. As I mentioned earlier, mere months later, Bergman was decried and essentially banished to Europe — not because the public didn’t like her, but because Bergman had a domestic idyll, and forsook it for a fling with a skinny Italian in sunglasses.

In the end, it’s not about means so much as the end. To extend on my never-ending Pitt-Jolie-Aniston comparison, it doesn’t matter if Brad Pitt cheated on his wife, so long as the woman with whom he cheated essentially turned him into a domestic figure and the father of six children. In the same way, what happened in the lead-up to Hayworth and Khan’s marriage didn’t matter, nor did the specifics of Khan’s princedom. What did matter was that Hayworth seemed to have found happiness.

With her marriage, Hayworth retreated from Hollywood, filing the gossip press with speculation that she would never return to the big screen. And she did stay away, playing the role of the domestic wife, tending to her two daughters and traveling the world. But trouble was brewing, and in 1951, Khan was spotted dancing with Joan Fontaine, aka the star of Rebecca, in a Vegas nightclub. THE NERVE.

Hayworth publicly called for a divorce, established residency in Nevada (which was what you had to do in those days to actually get a divorce), and the marriage finally ended in early 1953. In the meantime, Hayworth returned to the screen with two hits (Salome and Miss Sadie Thompson) each of which exploited her established star image.

Yet mere months after the finalization of her divorce to Khan, she married a clear skeezeball named Dick Haymes. Haymes, a lounge singer whose career was on the decline, was still married to his wife (do you see a pattern here?) and owed tens of thousands in back taxes and child support. God this guy sounds AWESOME.

And then things went into freefall. It almost makes me too sad to talk about it, so I’m just going to type a list of decline:

1. Haymes convinces Hayworth to fight with Columbia, effectively keeping her off the screen for four years. Four years!

2. Aly Khan starts fighting for custody of their daughter, Yasmin. This is obviously a bad scene. Hayworth issues xenophobic statements vowing now to let her daughter grow up out of the United States, Aly Khan wants her to grow up a princess, which, okay, has its merits.

3. With Hayworth off the screen and Haymes’ salary seized by the IRS, the two are too poor even to pay their hotel bills.

4. Hayworth sends her kids to go live with a nanny while things get sorted out. Confidential, the most widely read scandal rag of the time, gets photos of the kids playing in the nanny’s backyard, which just happens to be filled with a few unfortunately placed ash heaps and trash. Does not help Hayworth’s case in the custody battle.

5. Dick[face] hits Hayworth in public at a night club in Los Angeles. A thoroughly humiliated Hayworth leaves him.

6. Hayworth attempts a comeback, appearing in Pal Joey and a few other musicals that mostly just make me cringe, like when you see Old Tom Cruise trying to be Top Gun Tom Cruise. Not because she was old, but because the verve, the very light of her, seemed to have gone out.

7. Hayworth marries Husband #5, who yet again swindles her of most of her money.

After years of decline, poverty forced her to sign on for a B-grade Western with the equally washed up Robert Mitchum. And at 54, decades of alcohol and stress had aged her prematurely. Her memory was failing, and she had to shoot each of her scenes one line at a time. This from the woman who had nailed her performance of “Put the Blame on Mame” on the second take.

The sad truth was that Hayworth was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and would spend the next 20 years gradually losing herself and every memory of her bittersweet life. She was eventually put under the care of her daughter Yasmin, then a grown woman, and spent her final years staring out a window in Central Park West.

I look at pictures and watch footage of Rita Hayworth, and see a resilience and vivacity that could only endure for so long. She was the plaything of her studios and the media, and lived in the imagination of countless men and women around the world. Millions wanted her to find happiness and were willing to forgive any matter of indiscretion in order for her to find it. She searched for it — through studio-shaped images, new names, and a laundry list of husbands — but fame makes many things elusive, especially contentment and peace. When asked how it felt to have everything, she replied, “I haven’t had everything from life. I’ve had too much.”

And I watch that cherished moment in Gilda, or the way she flung her arms and legs in abandon during her in her dance scenes with Astaire, and I see a woman aching to live. Which is why it’s so tragic that a woman so clearly filled with life, in the end, found it so hard to live a full one.

Previously: Paul Newman, Decency Manifest.

Anne Helen Petersen is a Doctor of Celebrity Gossip. No, really. You can find evidence (and other writings) here.



348 Comments / Post A Comment

raised amongst catalogs

"And it’s that face — that ability to make each person who saw it seem personally invited — that differentiates the lingerie models from the stars, and that separates, say, Megan Fox sucking on her finger from Rita Hayworth in a coy kneel." Nailed it, AHP!

Lee Lee Batista@facebook

@vanillawaif Love that line! Great writing keep it up..more stories please :)

jams

But seriously, wasn't that the general American Dream happening at the time? All the ethnics went to war and came back white. sewage removal

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melis

Rita Moreno is doing a (fantastic) one-woman show in Berkeley right now, and one of my favorite parts was when she discussed receiving dancing lessons from Rita Hayworth's uncle: "Oh! Rita Hayworth used to be Latina too?"

melis

To clarify, it's one of my favorite parts for her, you know, wry and earnest recollection of how things were at the time, not because the kind of racial erasure and sexual harassment both of the Ritas weathered was funny.

QuiteAmiable

What a beautiful and tragic story.

candybeans

eee! was just thinking I needed one of these. I heart you, SoCH.

Jannat Sheikh@facebook

@candybeans

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Polina

Wow. And it's hard to say much beyond: 1) Beautiful, amazing woman, 2) Fucking tragic, 3) Jesus, all of this shitty stuff is so alive and well in the realm of Stardom.

undercoverhippie

It makes me so happy when it SoCH day. I thought of you this morning then I saw that Clark Gable and Loretta Young's secret daughter had died: http://jezebel.com/5864077/clark-gable--loretta-youngs-secret-daughter-dies-at-76
You make me want to have a classic movie marathon with every post.

Kristen

So, if I'm understanding you right, the studios didn't try to sell the idea of "Rita Hayworth, white person," they sold the idea of "Rita Hayworth, non-white person trying to 'pass' as white" and people loved it. Complicated!

Anne Helen Petersen

@Kristen Non-white person SUCCESSFULLY passing as white, and people loved it. You, too, can erase your heritage to please white audiences!

Lily Rowan

@Anne Helen Petersen But seriously, wasn't that the general American Dream happening at the time? All the ethnics went to war and came back white. (I am only half making this up, but it feels right.)

RK Fire

@Lily Rowan: Yeah, all of the white ethnics did, but I'd argue that's also a one-two combo of the GI Bill and the white migration to the suburbs.

I want to say that black men went to war and came back to join/lead what evolve into the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, but that's probably a far more glib generalization. And Japanese Americans got interned (and some went to war) but assimilated back into society out of trauma. Then their kids joined the Civil Rights movement and fought for reparations.

WW2 and the post-war era was a crazy time!

Lily Rowan

@RK Fire Yes, yes it was. And of course I should have specified white ethnics. Racist!

miwome

@Kristen Ties in to the whole Cinderella narrative, as well. Columbia Studios is the new fairy godmother, apparently.

tunnyciegos

this is all wonderful. But wasn't that famous photo of Brad Pitt on the beach with Angelina also a famous fake?

wee_ramekin

The last two paragraphs made me cry. You nail these every time, Anne. Every. Time.

CrescentMelissa

@wee_ramekin yes. weeping into my tea at my desk.

pterodactgirl

Oh hurray! SOCH is back! But wait! Fred Astaire was a secret asshole??????? Details?

(I have been hoping for a Hayworth one of these. You do not disappoint, Ms. Petersen!)

bitzyboozer

@pterodactgirl Well, he was famously, obsessively perfectionist when it came to dancing. Probably not the easiest person to work with?

pterodactgirl

@bitzyboozer I get that part, but why the surprise that he would speak well of her? Was he actually bad-mouthing his other dance partners? He just seems so...pleasant.

Cawendaw

@pterodactgirl I don't think I do want details. I don't mean to diminish the tragedy of Rita's life, but the part about this article that really broke my heart was the idea that Fred Astaire might have been anything other than a much more dapper version of Mr. Rogers.

Bittersweet

@Cawendaw: Yessss. Don't spoil my Astaire-as-lovely-in-real-life-as-he-is-in-his-films dream, please! (Perfectionist I can take...asshole, not so much.)

noodge

@pterodactgirl I have heard this many times, that he was arrogant, and difficult to work with. For some reason, I never really liked him either, and haven't seen many of his films (although I'm a semi-profesh dancer myself).

Now, Gene Kelly always seemed to have this warmth and awesomeness that I could appreciate better. There was something I never liked about Fred's face, but I could look at Gene Kelly dancing all day.

bitzyboozer

@pterodactgirl I've never read anything but quotes of him being incredibly generous and complimentary to his dance partners. In fact I was trying to google a quote I remembered of him saying that Rita Hayworth was his favorite dance partner (various sources say it's from his autobiography but I couldn't find the direct quote) and came across a different anecdote saying that when asked the question he would say either Gene Kelley or Bing Crosby, to avoid offending any of the ladies.

La Cieca@facebook

@pterodactgirl I don't think anyone ever called Astaire cruel. He was exacting and he expected his partners to work hard to the edge of their abilities. He once said in an interview, "All the girls I ever danced with thought they couldn't do it, but of course they could. So they always cried. All except Ginger [Rogers]. No no, Ginger never cried."

There's another quote I can't find verbatim at the moment, but it's about another actress, I think Cyd Charisse, and Astaire's compliment to her went something like, "All my partners at one point or another say 'I can't do it,' and what they really mean is 'I don't want to do it' or 'I'm tired and I want to go home' or 'I'm afraid I can't do it.' But when Cyd[?] said 'I can't do it,' she meant exactly that, it was beyond her abilities, and when she said it I just dropped that step and tried something else."

Astaire worked with a lot of actresses more than once, sometimes in circumstances where the actress was at least as big a star as he, or bigger. After he was second-billed to the not notably docile Judy Garland in Easter Parade, she agreed to be cast with him again in The Barkleys of Broadway and Royal Wedding (though she made neither film due to ill health) and there was even a projected musical version of Private Lives announced for them. If he had really been such a jerk, the more powerful Garland could have asked for him to be replaced or simply refused to work with him in the first place.

One of Astaire last onscreen partners was Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. She wasn't a dancer and you can see in the film that Astaire crafts their numbers together so she's not overburdened: the point is for her to look graceful even if the steps are elementary.

A possible source of the "asshole Astaire" myth is the strong contrast between his onscreen persona (nonchalant, never breaking a sweat) and his real personality, which was all about hard work and striving for perfection.

Craftastrophies

@La Cieca@facebook God. I love Ginger Rogers so much, you guys.

I wonder if part of the myth is, as you say, contrast. But also that the women he worked with are so beloved, and people are really protective of him. So when people hear stories of Ginger practising until her feet bleed, etc, they think 'that bastard made her do that!' Astaire isn't my favourite ever, partly because I don't usually actually like his characters - that whole 'I hate him, wait, I love him!' thing was great when I was 16, but not so much these days.

I am so going home and watching a Fred and Ginger film, though. I think 'carefree' might be my fave. That golf scene? And then he turns around all smug and she's not there? Poor, poor, Ralph Bellamy.

Oh_Please_Elise!

Love Rita and love the article, but Fred Astaire was anything but an asshole! Rita, herself in a New York Times interview said, "I guess the only jewels of my life were the pictures I made with Fred Astaire.". He was actually known as the nicest and classiest guy in Hollywood as cited in many quotes by fellow actors, directors, producers and so on and so forth. Although he was a notorious perfectionist, he was also known to be very emotionally generous with everyone he danced with. There's even this story about Gene Kelly's behavior to Debbie Reynolds on the set of 'Singing In The Rain (confirmed by Debbie in interviews) "Another curious anecdote is about Debbie Reynolds. At the time of the film, she apparently was a gymnast rather than a trained dancer. Her lack of skills in the latter area enraged Gene Kelly into yelling at her at one point, after which she left the set to have a good cry under a piano on another set. Who should find her there but one Mr. Fred Astaire. Taking pity, Astaire decided to work with Reynolds to get her dancing up to snuff. After reading this story, I can't help but move ol' Fred a few notches further up the “hulluva guy” ladder.". The story was actually a lot worse, and Kelly even called himself an asshole for treating her the way he did.

mu
mu

@La Cieca@facebook Re: Audrey Hepburn not being a dancer: actually she was a trained ballet dancer. You can even see in the way she walked and held her arms that she was a dancer. But she wasn’t a tap dancer and Astaire wasn’t a ballet dancer. If she’d been paired with Gene Kelly, they might’ve been more compatible as dancers and would’ve been able to choreograph moves that suited them both.

Kara Reynolds

Tragic. So sad. She was STUNNING. America should have thanked her for her 'pin-up' contribution.

laurel

@Kara Reynolds Seriously, the VA should have given her a pension.

itmakesmewonder

Buddy, the title of the original story is Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, that's not some separate academic idea.

Anne Helen Petersen

@itmakesmewonder THAT EXPLAINS SO MUCH

GreenSedai

@itmakesmewonder Thank you for beating me too it.

Con Huevos

@itmakesmewonder Glad you posted this... I was gonna say! No Stephen King fan, are ya Anne Helen? ;)

marilla

I hereby request an "Is Your Man a Scrub? Fred Astaire vs. Gene Kelly" edition.

melis

LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, THEY WERE PERFECT

pterodactgirl

@marilla Oh God. I would love that. Except that I will brook no aspersions to be cast on Gene Kelly.

marilla

@pterodactgirl i would advise you to stay away from the wikipedia page on Singin' in the Rain, but you didn't hear it from me!

Cawendaw

@pterodactgirl Let's compromise. "Is Your Man a Scrub? Fred Astair and Gene Kelly vs. Your Man"

pterodactgirl

@marilla Aw. Now I have a little bit of a sad.

In related news I've just realized that I've totally always equated the Roger Federer/Rafael Nadal and Fred Astaire/Gene Kelly rivalries in my head. They're both smooth & classy vs. athletic & exciting...and in both I don't really care too much due to my overwhelming desire to just GIVE THE BUSINESS to one half of the rivalry.

marilla

@pterodactgirl YES. Although the business deserving half is obviously the smooth & classy half in my book. <3 u Rogie!

datalass

@marilla Ooooh, Cyd Charisse had something to say about this. If I remember rightly, she said that her husband always knew when she came home from a day of work whether she'd been dancing with Kelly or Astaire. If the former, she was all bruised up and sore because he was such a physical performer. If the latter, she didn't have a mark on her. It sounded kind of awful, but she told it as a sort of an eye-rollingly endearing story about Kelly.

pterodactgirl

@marilla I will happily split the Banana Sundae that is Federer/Nadal/Astaire/Kelly if you will eat the Federer/Astaire parts. Sundae friends forever?

(For clarification, I totally <3 Rogie too, I just don't really want to sex him so much.)

@datalass I'd make a comment about bruises, but I think it would probably cross a line.

noodge

@marilla WE ALL KNOW GENE KELLY IS NOT A SCRUB. hush your mouth. shhhh.

marilla

@pterodactgirl DONE.

@teenie i see i have struck a nerve.

Tragically Ludicrous

@marilla SO WITH YOU on Federer. I don't even really like tennis? I try to watch tournaments. but, you know, him or whatever.

Craftastrophies

@marilla This is hurting my brain: "Although the film revolves around the idea that Kathy has to dub over for Lina's voice, even in the talking scenes, it was actually Jean Hagen's normal voice. Reynolds herself was dubbed in "Would You?" and "You are My Lucky Star" by an uncredited Betty Noyes.[5] Also, when Kathy is supposedly dubbing Lina's voice in the live performance of "Singing in the Rain" at the end of the film, Jean Hagen is actually dubbing Reynolds' speaking voice"

JessicaLovejoy

Every old-timey bombshell has some "ravishing peasant" outfit like that one with all the necklaces. See also Ava Gardner as in The Barefoot Contessa.

navillus

has anyone seen The Prodigal Sons? every time I read about Rita I immediately think of it.

Emma Peel

I hate to be that person, but Khan's last name is spelled right on first reference and then wrong throughout...

southernbitch

@Emma Peel I'm also that person: Ethiopia doesn't have a coast.

atipofthehat

@Emma Peel

And it was the Magnificent Ambersons!

Emma Peel

@atipofthehat And it's Ismaili not Ishamili, but I'll put that down to old-timey spellings.

Emma Peel

@Emma Peel I am the worst. I really really do love these, copy-editing mistakes just make me crazy. Don't ever stop, Anne Helen Petersen!

wee_ramekin

@Emma Peel It's okay girl, I feel you. I don't think it means that you are the worst. In fact, if you're anything like me, copy-editing mistakes in articles that you love make you crazy because the article is so good, and there should be no grounds upon which to impugn it!

[My contribution: The third sentence is missing a 'rid' in the clause where Anne tells us that Rita had to get rid of her "pesky Latin-ness".]

chirdia

@Emma Peel no, please. be that person. i noticed both misspellings and it bothered me throughout the piece.

EMarrinner

@Emma Peel: Also, "dancing with Crosby".

Emma Peel

@chirdia @wee_ramekin Thanks, guys! Yes, it just irks me that something so awesome didn't go through a bit more care, especially on things like this that concern things important to a lot of people.

Also, I think a widow's peak is what she had before the electrolysis, not after: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widow%27s_peak OK, done now! I hope.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@southernbitch
It did prior to Eritrean independence! And there is no way I can be bothered to compare dates with the Pitt stop mentioned above.

southernbitch

@josiah Eritrea became an independent nation nearly 20 years before those photos.

Anne Helen Petersen

@wee_ramekin I also thank you for copy-editing because, as all of us who write for the internet in our spare time know, we have to also have day jobs. I wish my day job was just copy-editing my internet writing.

Emma Peel

@Anne Helen Petersen Oh totally. And often you need a second pair of eyes for this stuff anyway.

miwome

@Emma Peel That hurt my brain in so many ways, but I assumed it was an old-timey thing, like "Moslem" and "from Arabia." "Ishamili" would mean, like, "northward," or something. Depending on what dialect you speak, because in Damascus it would be a weirdo, mutant version of "left."

miwome

@Emma Peel THANK YOU I have a widow's peak and I was rill confused.

Emma Peel

@miwome So now I got curious because even for an old-timey thing it's a little strange, and the NYT spelled it the way it's spelled now (although they did use "Moslem") in 1958. So who knows. Perhaps Hollywood gossip mags were not so up on the various branches of Islam? Feel that's a safe bet.

(But yes, FROM ARABIA! Although I feel like he definitely was not actually from Arabia. Wikipedia tells me he was born in Italy.)

miwome

@Emma Peel I, too, feel it is a safe bet, since half the pundits in the country TODAY are not up on that.

When I got back from studying abroad in Syria, my ex asked me, "How was Arabia?!" just to piss me off. This is why he was and remains my ex.

Emma Peel

@miwome Sigh. I guess all of us in this thread nitpick for naught, too. Maybe posts can't be changed once they're posted.

chirdia

@Emma Peel I think they can be but only by editors? Sigh alongside you.

miwome

@chirdia @Emma Peel Make that three of us sighing.

Anne Helen Petersen

@miwome typos submitted; they will be changed shortly!

Emma Peel

@Anne Helen Petersen YAY <3

wee_ramekin

@Anne Helen Petersen Girrrrl, thanks for not getting offended by us nitpickers. We really really really don't mean any harm, and it makes my little Virgo heart so glad that you're fixing the typos. :)

ru_ri

@Emma Peel I also love love love SOCH and wish no harm but it is Ziegfeld, not Ziegfield. Also masturbatory, not masterbatory, French Riviera not Riveria,and possibly she was vowing *not* (rather than *now*?) to keep her child from growing up outside the U.S. And I think there are more but I am going to stop now...copyediting is my job and I just can't help it, sorry! And thank you for letting everyone know how yummy Rita Hayworth was and also about the sadness.

atipofthehat
TreatYoSelf

@atipofthehat Jesus, that's awful..

Emma Peel

@TreatYoSelf That is incredibly sad.

melis

@atipofthehat Ahh, I don't know, why is that all in caps, don't yell at me about tragic past molestation cases pleeeeeeeease

#whyiseverythingliterallytheworstallofthetime

Anne Helen Petersen

@TreatYoSelf Yes, that part is really, really sad and was processed really weirdly by the gossip columnists and too complicated for me to even attempt to address in this post, but thank you for bringing it up -- McLean has an extensive section on it (and the way the language used to describe it when discussing Hayworth's childhood, even back then) in Being Rita Hayworth that I'd highly recommend.

atipofthehat

@Anne Helen Petersen

I just think it goes to explain how this wonderful woman had a lifelong pattern of awful men, none of whom seemed to have her best interests at heart. Not that who she was wasn't wonderful, but how much more wonderful might she have been (and how much happier)?

@melis

LET'S ALL SCREAM FOR THE SILENCED

pterodactgirl

@atipofthehat Ugh. That's terrible. I didn't know about this, which I guess comes from doing most of my research on classic stars on wikipedia. It does seem to shed some light on her inability to have a stable romantic relationship though, and I appreciate someone mentioning it, even though I understand AHP mainly focuses these columns on the star's public image and the way it was processed/disseminated via gossip mags during the era. I guess I'll have to look into getting Being Rita Hayworth from the library.

bitzyboozer

@atipofthehat Yeah, I was wondering why that didn't get mentioned, but almost glad it didn't because yikes.

Cawendaw

@atipofthehat Wait...
"...he would make Rita his dance partner, and they could go dance in Tijuana clubs as “The Dancing Cansinos.” Nevermind that this arrangement suggested Rita to be her father’s wife..."

Oh God.

gfrancie

God that was a whole pile of sadness.

raised amongst catalogs

The white bikini photo has me hoping for a How To Have No Moles, Hairs or Veins on Your Body While Wearing a White Bikini post, courtesy of Jane Marie.

TreatYoSelf

@vanillawaif I know, I'm hoping there's some OG photoshop action going on here.

atipofthehat

@vanillawaif

There's another bikini connection (hey, is that a dating site? Bikini Connection?): they painted her image on the side of the first atomic bomb tested at Bikini Atoll.

atipofthehat

@atipofthehat

Now THAT's a bombshell.

raised amongst catalogs

Oh, also: Orson Welles = handsome in the same exact way Vincent D'Onofrio is handsome? Aka, in the "Let the wild rumpus start!" way.

TreatYoSelf

@vanillawaif Totally see it.

pterodactgirl

@vanillawaif Thirded.

wee_ramekin

So, the whole point of the actor they chose for Paul Kinsey on Mad Men is that he looks exactly like Orson Welles, right? I mean, I kind of felt like Paul is supposed to represent the meglomaniacal, anti-government artsy liberal that Orson Welles was, and seeing those pictures of Orson, the likeness is uncanny.

pterodactgirl

@wee_ramekin OHMYGOD. Mind: blown.

Polina

@wee_ramekin When I saw those pictures my mind went to Mad Men, but for some reason to Jared Harris. Your brain got it right, though. That is seriously insane!

bitzyboozer

@vanillawaif See also: Mark Ruffalo.

melis

@wee_ramekin More importantly, why have Michael Gladis and Christian McKay not yet had an Orson-off?

miwome

@wee_ramekin Youuuuuuuuuuuu are a genius.

wee_ramekin

@miwome *blush*

I think it's interesting too that they gave his character the last name Kinsey (as in "author of the Kinsey Report") AND had him date an African-American woman AND had him talk about going to civil rights protests. I sort of feel like they were clubbing us over the head with that character, in some ways.

miwome

@wee_ramekin I definitely agree with all that. Did not pick up on the Orson Welles bit.

Even though they were hitting us over the head with that character, I liked that he turned out to be kind of a poser in the end. Kept him from being too pure. Similarly, I'm glad (for social history reasons!) that Peggy's arty boyfriend turned out to be a misogynist jerk, even though I totally feel for Peggy (been there, girl).

Craftastrophies

@vanillawaif VD'of has played OW twice. Once in Ed Wood, which I already knew about (and it was really eerily accurate) and once in a short, according to IMDB.

TreatYoSelf

A few thoughts:

1. I LOVE this series, I will never get sick of hearing about classic film stars and their crazy scandals.
2. Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles were married, and had a baby?!?! Whaaaa? My mind is blown.
3. That picture of Orson Welles pretending to be a bull is amazing.
4. That polka dot hat!!
5. The latter half of her life is so sad :( It makes me wish she had a posse of awesome girlfriends. They would have set her straight with those loser guys.
6. I would love to see an essay about Jayne Mansfield, I've been reading about her lately and her story is fascinating.

bitzyboozer

@TreatYoSelf YES Jayne Mansfield! I was really, really disappointed in myself for not realizing that Mariska Hargitay is her daughter until, like, a month ago.

bookbike

@TreatYoSelf I think you're totally right about the girlfriend posse. Rita, and later Marilyn, just needed some lady support!

Craftastrophies

@heyad Too many sassy gay friends, not enough practical ladyfriends?

Kara Reynolds

ANNE - YOUR POSTS ROCK!

atipofthehat

@Kara Reynolds

They do.

oh, disaster

Beautifully written, as usual. What a sad, sad story.

Emma Peel

These are the best. I wish you could give us a preview of who's coming next. :)

pterodactgirl

@Emma Peel I wish this too!

Anne Helen Petersen

@pterodactgirl What if I give you a hint?

pterodactgirl

@Anne Helen Petersen Ahhh! Pretty please?

Anne Helen Petersen

@pterodactgirl I'll just say 'Archie.'

pterodactgirl

@Anne Helen Petersen I'll just say, "Ahhhhhhhhh!"

(P.S. I love your columns!)

Lucienne

@Anne Helen Petersen OMG.

SO EXCITED. I hope that pool picture is included!!!!

Irma Vep

@Anne Helen Petersen OMG OMG OMG ARCHIE LEEEEEACH

frigwiggin

@Anne Helen Petersen Yesssss yes yes yes. My boyfriend is going to be all over that one. (Har har.)

Katie Scarlett

You pick the greatest photos for the ends of each of your posts.

TooCool4School

but wait a goddamn minute! Orson may be an a-hole, but The Lady from Shanghai is the best!

pterodactgirl

@TooCool4School I agree, I love it even though everyone (including Welles) insists it's flawed. I think I'm adding "the missing footage from TLFS and for someone to make a director's cut" to my metaphorical christmas list though.

datalass

@TooCool4School Seconded. As film noir goes, it's right up there.

bitzyboozer

@TooCool4School I think Anne is right that, viewed through the lens of being "a Rita Hayworth movie," it doesn't work at all. But that doesn't mean it isn't awesome. The mirror sequence! So good!

Lucienne

@TooCool4School It is nearly the best, but I kind of feel like Welles is super awkward and embarrassing in it. He's just SO miscast. I always think Joseph Cotten or Montgomery Clift (the time line isn't perfect, but it wouldn't have been impossible) would have been better.

Kakapo

@TooCool4School Thank you! I love these posts, but it suddenly actually made me ANGRYANGRYANGRY to see it referred to as a "stinkbomb." Also, GILDA is all kinds of great and is decidedly not just about hair-flipping and "Put the Blame on Mame".

marilla

lower lip bite at 1:31 of Put the Blame on Mame take 2: I DIE. I DIE. I DIE.

Diana

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ABOUT GENE TIERNEY?!?!

Also, this one was wonderful and Rita Hayworth is "daaaaaaaaaaaaaayum" worthy, and I'm so glad this column exists.

BUT WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ABOUT GENE TIERNEY?!?!

laurel

@Diana And also Hedy Lamarr!

atipofthehat

@laurel

Hedy has PATENTS !
And if you're using Wi-Fi, you owe her.

nonvolleyball

@atipofthehat there's a new book about her that just came out--Hedy's Folly. which I haven't read yet, but it sounds awesome, & a friend of mine helped do the research so obviously it's brilliant.

melis

"Hedley. IT'S HEDLEY!"

PistolPackinMama

@melis They come and they go and they go and they come and it's always the same... I'm sooo tiiiiiiired.

laurel

@atipofthehat I know! And I'm totally using wifi! Also:

*She had 67 husbands or something, so there should be some good dish there.
*As Melis points out, there's a Blazing Saddles reference.
*She was heartbreakingly gorgeous.
*She had a sad decline.

She's the total SoCH package!

mezzanine

@Diana oh god gene tierney SO SAD! and did you know that agatha christie used her rubella story in the "the mirror crackd"?! (NOT TO RUIN IT FOR ANYONE, SORRY). when i found out that really happened to someone, and that someone was gene tierney (laura!), i wanted to cry. (same way i did when i found out rita hayworth married her last loser husband and he ruined/hit her. sigh).

also, i used to wish i was had hair like rita hayworth when i was a little girl (thank you mother who loves classic movies). now i want her hair AND her clothes! thanks for writing these columns!

ejcsanfran

@melis: "De Monet - it's De Monet!"

Faintly Macabre

@AnthroK8 "A wed wose, how womantic."

BScottie

@laurel Yes, Hedy Lamarr! I've been asking for that one for a while. She got completely naked in her very first film, too. Brass balls on that one.

PistolPackinMama

Oh. My. Lord. She is something else. I know she is supposed to be a sex-ba-bombshell, and she IS. But she's also coltish and gleeful and joyous and yes, that is very bittersweet indeed.

PistolPackinMama

@AnthroK8 ALSO I WANT TO WEAR MY HAIR LIKE HERS IN GILDA EVERY SINGLE DAY AND ORSON WELLES CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF WITH HIS SHORT BLONDE DEMANDS LOVE ANOTHER DYED REDHEAD.

yrouttasight

Any one see the documentary Prodigal Sons?

didgeridoo

@yrouttasight YESIHAVE!!! I was waiting for someone to mention this

yrouttasight

@yrouttasight Yessss! I was hoping someone had seen it, so people didn't think I was threadjacking or something. I was thinking "I swear the movie is relevent to this article!"

Such an interesting story.

bitzyboozer

You guys, we're seriously slacking on Anne's pantheon of perfect moments in cinema challenge! I am strangely drawing a blank right now but I know you all must have some good ones, bring 'em on!

PistolPackinMama

@bitzyboozer "You know how to whistle, don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." (Although I prefer the Gilda moment.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MheNUWyROv8

PistolPackinMama

@bitzyboozer I also like this one from Casablanca:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ATo3vNmu0

Bogart's face when he and Reynauld (sp?) are talking is so terrific.

Diana

@bitzyboozer

Oh, come now. As though we don't know.

http://youtu.be/_uc9Kn_3XJg

Lucienne

@bitzyboozer The window scene in The Adventures of Robin Hood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXywSR_wjpc

@AnthroK8 "How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Some day they may be scarce." Casablanca is the perfect movie.

Anne Helen Petersen

@Lucienne Now is when I start a rumble by asserting that Casablanca is probably the most overrated film of the 20th century.

Lucienne

@Anne Helen Petersen That's how I feel about Singin' in the Rain, so I'll keep cool.

PistolPackinMama

@Anne Helen Petersen Oh I agree! Well... Titanic was the most overrated. But I think Casablanca IS overrated. I actually think that scene right there is the best in the movie. Because it's about the most interesting relationship- Rick and Reynauld- and Bogart has this lovely, unforced look of resigned smiling humor when the French and Italian officers come by.

Ilsa is beautiful, and Lazlo is CAMPOLA, and whatever. Also, did they REALLY have to put her in the most unfortunate dresses in all of movie history? With the floral ruffles? And the white vesty stripey suit think? Shurely the rationing on fabric couldn't have been THAT scarce?

miwome

@bitzyboozer Not that hardly anyone has seen The Court Jester (sigh), but here are another couple moments: "With your permission, milady, I'd like to go round again (0:22)," and "DISCRETION IS FOR FOOLS AND SIMPLETONS! (0:27)" Should you choose to watch further, it will help you to know that he's under a spell.

But everyone SHOULD see The Court Jester! A musical comedy starring Danny Kaye, Basil Rathbone, and Angela Lansbury as a Hot Young Thing! There are singing/dancing/acrobatic dwarves! It's like an extra-funny Robin Hood musical.

Gnatalby

@Anne Helen Petersen I love Casablanca, but there's always someone who feels this way about juggernauts. (I think Bob Dylan is basically the worst, so my road in life has been hard to hoe.)

What kills me about Casablanca is the scene where they sing the french national anthem and learning that the bar extras were for real WWII refugees, which is why it's so emotional. Also the war wasn't over, so like, no one knew how it was going to turn out!

I think it seems different when you consider history was very much in progress at the time. Which it always is, but you know what I mean.

Lucienne

@Gnatalby That scene + the original scene in La Grande Illusion, which it is totally ripping off/referencing, is the reason I break down whenever I hear "La Marseillaise."

Roxy Throatpunch

@miwome I fucking love Court Jester SO MUCH that I just spent five minutes logging in on my phone which is a huge pain in the ass just so I could agree with you. Get it?

miwome

@Roxy Throatpunch Got it!

Roxy Throatpunch

@miwome @dj pomegranate God I love The Hairpin.

And since we're discussing Moments, this one's probably the best known. But the fact that I can't fully commit to saying that its my favorite speaks to how FULLY AWESOME that movie is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS75NtlH3gI

dj pomegranate

@Roxy Throatpunch Also! Angela Lansbury? Total babe. And Jean?! Was the mom in Mary Poppins. Votes for Women! She was also pretty much a babe.

"The Doge did what the Doge does..."

sandwiches

@Gnatalby oh my god, really? auuuughh.

miwome

@Roxy Throatpunch I spent long moments vacillating between that one and the fight scene with Ravenhurst, before concluding that both took too long to pay off unless one is AHP, who I am not. Those are like the delicious cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake of my childhood entertainment.

miwome

@dj pomegranate Well, it was the Duke with his dagger, the Doge with his ______?, and the Duchess with her dirk. They were all there in the dark.

miwome

@dj pomegranate I had no idea re: Mary Poppins. I'm delighted she didn't disappear off the face of the earth after TCJ.

And yeah, Angela Lansbury. I nearly had a heart attack when I realized THAT WAS MRS. POTTS.

Craftastrophies

@miwome Not that it's a 'moment' but everyone should definitely watch the 'pellet with the poison' bit from the Court Jester http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS75NtlH3gI

Valley Girl

@bitzyboozer The Cool Hand Luke car wash scene. Shirtless Paul Newman, sudsy big haired babe...Lord, whatever I done don't strike me blind for another couple of minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kliy32YWFcU

pterodactgirl

@miwome Oh my god, I leave this thread for a little while and everyone discusses The Court Jester without me! Every moment of that movie is gold. I remembering reading an interview with Danny Kaye's daughter in which she mentioned that almost every time someone approached her dad they would quote the "pellet with the poison" bit. I also love The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

In terms of perfect Hollywood moments I like Marlene Dietrich's dark night of the soul in Shanghai Express (the bit that this still is from: http://www.artandculture.com/uploads/images/0012/8126/marlene-dietrich_1__lightbox.jpg?1250718796.) Also Mark Hamill's "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you!" in Star Wars. I'm kind of blanking on more than that? Jimmy Stewart with Katharine Hepburn by the pool in The Philadelphia Story? The entire movie of His Girl Friday?

Craftastrophies

@pterodactgirl My family likes to quote the pellet with the poison while drunk. HOO boy.

His Girl Friday! The perfect moment (Spoiler, obvs): when she's typing away furiously and Bellamy's telling her he's leaving, and she starts to type what he's saying and gets all angry. Per.Fec.Tion.

miwome

@Craftastrophies My family likes to try to sing the song that starts "When I was a lad I was gloomy and sad as I was from the day I was born" in the car, and inevitably fails to remember all the lyrics. (That song has HELLA lyrics.)

pterodactgirl

@Craftastrophies "Yes, Bruce. On. The. Nine. O'clock. Train...Oh Bruce! I've gone and put it in the story!"

I also love the moment when Ralph Bellamy says he's got a lot of charm and Rosalind Russell says so venomously, "He comes by it honestly: his grandfather was a snake."

Craftastrophies

@pterodactgirl Ah, so good!

Also, I secretly love Calamity Jane, yes I know it's awful, shuddup! Anyway, the bits I love as a kid are obviously pretty gross now. But I still love the bit where Calamity (Doris Day) is mad at Katie and packing her things in a bag to run her out of town. She grabs a pair of drawers and shakes them. "Look at em! Pure silk! I bet her MOTHER SPUN EM!"

Craftastrophies

@Craftastrophies I was supposed to see my boyfriend this weekend but he's sick and now I probably won't see him until christmas. But that's ok. I'm having me an old movies weekend. (And then I'll make him watch them with me again, later). Starting with Fred and Ginger http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKhidEWHves "Ha. Ha. Ha." Then moving on the His Girl Friday. Gonna give All About Eve another go - I tried it a few times and found it too slow, but I think maybe I was just a young philestine? What else, pinners? If there was an old classic that you would be horrified to discover I haven't seen, I probably haven't. Tell me now and I'll rectify that!

dj pomegranate

@Craftastrophies I love all you people.

His Girl Friday is so good! Rosalind Russell!

Also, I went through a long, long musicals-only phase in my youth and watched every musical ever. Calamity Jane, yes it's awful but it's also totally great because HOWARD KEEL SO BEAUTIFUL. I also watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers more than once. It's terrible but come on. Beautiful men dancing!

Lucienne

@pterodactgirl How about the part in Shanghai Express when [spoilers? it's from the 30s though?] Anna May Wong says, angry but nonchalant, "you better get her out of there, I've just killed Chang." OMG, Anna I looooove you.

datalass

@dj pomegranate Did you ever see the interview with Julie Newmar (i.e., Catwoman) who was the tallest, most gorgeous of the seven brides? In it, she waxes lyrical and at length about all.the.testosterone. on that set. Sigh.

pterodactgirl

@Craftastrophies Oh I have some serious Doris Day love, but Calamity Jane is a bit much even for me. You should totally watch Pillow Talk if you haven't though. It's funny! (Although the depiction of male-female relationships is very 1960.) And I want all of Doris Days wardrobe from it. ALL OF IT. In terms of other recommendations The Philadelphia Story was my favorite movie for a long long time (although I watch it now and it can be construed as having vaguely anti-feminist overtones BUT SHUTUPSHUTUP,) anything by Ernst Lubitsh, but especially Trouble in Paradise, To Be or Not To Be, and Ninotchka, and I also just watched The Searchers and it was So Good, even for someone who doesn't like Westerns. And anything with Mae West because that woman was hilarious (she wrote all her own stuff!)

@dj pomegranate I have a male friend who lists Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as his favorite movie. This never fails to make me chuckle.

@Lucienne Anna May Wong is such a BAMF. I am in awe of her.

Craftastrophies

@dj pomegranate HOWARD KEEL omg. His voice. His laugh! Swoon!

I am afraid to rewatch Seven Brothers. I mean... Sobbin' Women? Really? But it's so amazing. Sigh. I can still watch Calamity Jane, because 13 year old me just loves it so much. The bit where she tried to have a shoot out with katie, and Bill wins for Katie, and Calam runs off and cries because she's ruined everything forever and no one likes her? I still always cry in that part. It's basically the bit I liked about Bridesmaids, condensed into 5 minutes.

I LOVE Pillow Talk. I bought the Doris/Rock box set. The bits I love the most: they way at the start of the film she's like 'whatever, maid, my life is just fine, I have a swanky apartment and a good job that I love. Besides, you're drunk'. And the part where Rock's character tells Doris' that his OTHER character is a 'mother's boy', and proceeds to ask for dip recipes, etc. LAYERS. Also, I rewatched it recently and man, that scene where the young man gives her a lift home and then basically assaults her in the car? And it's in there as a 'oh how funny' scene? Yeesh!

The other two are ok but nothing to write home about. I think it's in Lover Come Back where they have a dinner date at his apartment, and then she does the dishes. Wtf number 1. Then he asks if she wants help and she says 'oh no, dear! That's women's work!] [patented sparkle]. Uhhhhh. But you know what, that woman could SING when they let her.

I have not seen most of those things you mention. I shall rectify this. Also, it occurs to me that I've not seen all of Annie Get Your Gun. HOWAARRRD!

Lucienne

@Craftastrophies But have you seen Kiss Me, Kate? That is essential Howard Keel viewing! Also, the songs are good.

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@Craftastrophies God, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is so horrifyingly hilarious. My boyfriend and our roommates were all like, "HAHA WHAT NO SERIOUSLY" when I made them watch it.

Also, the Rosalind Russell love in here makes my heart swell. I'm trying to pick a best moment from Auntie Mame but I just don't know if I can do it. Maybe the ping pong ball story? Or the horseback riding. Or everything. Masterful.

Megasus

That was so good, and fascinating, and heartbreaking. I will never watch a Rita Hayworth film the same way again.

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thanks good gracious for this series. I will read them for as long as you write them, which I am assuming will be forever because you are a national treasure.
and oh, rita. *tear*

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I don't have anything productive to add except I love these Scandals Of Classic Hollywood so so so very much!

miwome

Welles had become insufferable. Hayworth filed for divorce soon thereafter, explaining “I can’t take his genius any more.” Rita, I know the feeling. I can only take Welles in two-hour sections, so I can only imagine what it must have been like to spend the evening — let alone five years — at his side. Was he constantly thinking in terms of allegory? Were there sleds all over the house? Did he make you do radio plays in the basement with elaborate side effects?

LOVE.

LydiaDeetz

"Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda... and woke up with me." - Rita Hayworth

Sing it, sister. I think many of us can relate to that statement, even if we were never THE Gilda.

D.@twitter

@LydiaDeetz This line appears (or is referenced) in Lynch's /Mulholland Drive/ too, I think?

scojo

@miwome I've seen The Court Jester! I love Danny Kaye. And props to commenters defending my hero, Fred Astaire. Seriously, just cuz he worked hard and expected his partners to do the same doesn't make him a secret asshole, unless Anne Helen Petersen knows something I don't (no doubt) and if so, fess up lady! I mean, Bob Fosse was an obvious asshole, and the biggest asshole of all was Ballanchine, n'est-ce pas?? But YESSSS it is such a GOOD WEEK when there is a new SOCH dispatch at the Hairpin!!! Thank you AHP for awesomeness.

miwome

@scojo Huzzah! I had the feeling I'd find a couple of co-fans at The Hairpin. Nobody I've actually met in my analog life has even heard of it (except my family, who introduced me to it as a child), but The Hairpin is wondrous like that.

dj pomegranate

@miwome I watched The Court Jester approximately one thousand times as a child. We loooovvvved it and I sing the lullaby from it (YOU KNOW IT: "...tho' your crown be rich in rubies, diamonds set in gold..."...???) to the little ones I babysit. Danny Kaye <3! Although I heard he was kind of a jerk IRL? :(

dj pomegranate

Also there are SO MANY funny quotable lines from Court Jester! So many! We should all watch it together!

miwome

@dj pomegranate OMG VIEWING PARTY. I might actually be willing to ride a bus or a train to somewhere to be able to watch this movie with people who are as excited about it as I am (unless that is creepy I AM NOT CREEPY), instead of forcing my friends to watch it with me when they're too drunk to argue.

Last time I did it, I just woke up my buddy whenever Jean appeared by punching him and yelling, "Wench boobs!" Never again.

dj pomegranate

@miwome How close are you to New York?! Can we all wear wench outfits?

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@dj pomegranate I am a mere four hours away in weirdly balmy Boston! I am open to wench outfits so long as I can change after I get off the bus.

pterodactgirl

@dj pomegranate A Court Jester viewing-party? And I can't go! I may just throw myself from the highest tower. :(

miwome

@pterodactgirl Brute or not, lout or not, you will marry Griswold.

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@miwome If you like him so much, you marry Griswold!

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@pterodactgirl Who fills your head with this childish fiddle-faddle!

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@miwome Not for nothing is he called the grim and grisely gruesome Griswold!

(I can't believe this whole movie is available on Youtube. My night has been seriously derailed.)

miwome

@pterodactgirl Go to your chambers! Good, it is done. You there! Go hence. Scour the countryside. Bring in the fairest wenches in the land.

(I may own it on DVD and may have derailed many an evening that way.)

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I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS SINCE THESE STARTED! I remember even commenting about it once! THANK YOU!!!

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So sad! GOD. This one really tugged my heartstrings. Excellent & fascinating post as per usual!

astonishing

Amazing post, as always. And my god, the clip of her rolling down her glove is OBSCENE. How does she do that!?

Minnow

My heart jumps every time I see one of these posts! Since you mentioned them both in the article, can I put in a request for the equally amazing but warring sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine?

Bitca?

@Minnow Yes! Their feud was fascinating. The New York Times or New York Magazine (there was a new york in there somewhere and I'm pretty sure it wasn't the New Yorker) did a great piece on it last year or so. As a huge fan of both Rebecca and Gone With the Wind, I was riveted. I had no idea!

LMac

Just saw My Week With Marilyn (meh) but now I'm DYING for a Larry Olivier/Vivian Leigh write-up! The drama! The hearbreak! Gone With the Wind! Rebecca! British accents! Drunkeness! Yelling!

D.@twitter

@LMac YES to Vivian Leigh. Also Frances Farmer! And then, to soothe us after we're reeling from that...Audrey Hepburn? :))

D.@twitter

Man, you were right about that "perfect moment" as Gilda. Not just lifelike, but ALIVE. What happened to her kids, though? *googles* Hmn, Yasmin turned out to be a wealthy philanthropist raising awareness against Alzheimer's disease (gossip part: divorced twice. The second one was filed by her husband who claimed abandonment). There's not nearly as much about Rebecca; it seems like she lived a pretty quiet life, happily married to her college sweetheart.
I would also like to add that I love Rita's /real/ name (Margarita!) and also Spanish/Latin names like "Consuelo," "Milagro" and especially "Soledad."

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Kerri Mercury Morris@facebook

Please do a Lucy and Desi piece sometime!

Speaking of cake, I have cake

Oh wow. What a wondrous thing SoCH is. <3 forever!

Re Orson Welles - yes, he was batshit and became gross when he was old and fat, but in his prime the man had a DRAW about him. I think it was because he wasn't gorgeous but he was COMPELLING. Also I think I remember someone commenting here, or maybe AHP herself saying the appeal of Marlon Brando was that of a gorgeous man who is starting to go to seed - anyway, that's what Orson had. That moment where his face appears in the lamplight in The Third Man, after Harry Lime has been persistently flagged, Shark-from-Jaws-like, for the first hour of the film! To quote AHP, I DIE.

It might sound ridiculously stars-and-rainbows-y, but I got a lot of comfort from the fact that Rita's daughter looked after her so lovingly when she was decimated by Alzheimer's. As in, it was tragic that Rita's life declined so much, but if any one of us were in the same situation I'm sure we'd be very comforted by the knowledge that even if we go gaga and don't know our own name, we'll have a loving daughter to look after us. Many people don't even have that. So major props to Princess Yasmin, she must've really loved her mum.

Also, it gave me great joy that this column was posted on my birthday! Thanks for the pressie Anne!

Punky

oh good lord, i could die and go to heaven now a happy woman. please don't ask how i discovered this... but I was watching the clip bailando nace el amor embedded in this post while listening to pitbull's "let's have a real good time"... and if you start the pitbull song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSExILkaF6U) at 1:09 in the rita & fred video, you will realize that it is actually Not metaphysically possible that they could have danced this not knowing pitbull would later write them the soundtrack of their lives. i refuse to watch the dance video now with the music it actually came with, because there's no way it could be as good. and the satisfying sense of cosmic justice, to see rita dancing to a the music of a spanish-language multimillionaire... it just feels so right.

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@Punky Ahhh, that was amazing!!

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@Punky I just watched that (because I just read the article tonight). I second @made mumblecrust, that was AWESOME!

itiresias

Out of curiosity, where do the photos for this column come from? I suppose there are hidden archives that come unlocked to you when you get your PhD in celebrity news, so this question may be wildly foolish.

SarahDances

The only thing I less than love about this post is the implication that dancers having to dance for "minutes" on end without messing up is somehow a marvel. I mean, that's only what every single dancer in the world who is not being committed to film has to do anyway, and they only get one shot at it.

In the case of someone like Debbie Reynolds, who wasn't a trained dancer, I can see that being a big deal, but for people who were professional dancers turned into actors, not so much.

sevanetta

OK, I do have a skirt that swings like that, you know why? Because I do lindy hop swingdancing! It's awesome! It was really cool to see that clip because the shorty george is a step I learnt at classes :)

TLS
TLS

Sooooo, since Spain isn't a part of Latin American, does that still make Hayworth a Latina? Seriously, sheesh.

PatriciaPepoire

So sad. Her grandson, Princess Yasmin's only child, just committed suicide. The timing of this article is crazy.

Mustelidae

Just so you know, Lady from Shanghai is a completely awesome film in its own right. Rita is amazingly beautiful (I LOVE the short, blonde hair) and she acts the shit out of that film. If you dig on creepy film noir, watch it.

Farin Rebecca Loeb@twitter

The thing that strikes me most is how it's so amazing to us these days that she was able to act/dance full routines at once. But that's exactly what someone who actually performs on stage has to do, which is why that's where you now find the serious talents- with idiots sticking to edited tv and movies. But back then, really really talented people were the ones doing movies- and doing it just like they would on stage. Amazing to see.

Oh_Please_Elise!

Rita didn't actually sing 'Put The Blame On Mame'. It was sung by Canadian singer Anita Ellis who went uncredited. She actually rarely sang in any of her films. "Hayworth resented that the studio failed to train her to sing or to encourage her to learn how to sing. Although she appeared to sing in many of her films, she was usually dubbed. As the public did not know the secret, she was embarrassed to be asked to sing by troops at USO shows.".

directoreditor

Quote: "I am not making these words up — they were in the gossip columns".

Well...now you know the journalistic reliability of a doctor of celebrity gossip. Hope that someday (soon) you are eulogized as fairly, Anne!

Steve Delossantos@facebook

The glory days of hollywood use you discard you she is a legend.

Donnatella

how is it racist if rita is european??? spain is part of europe. and they changed marilyn monroe to blonde, lucille ball to redhead, so all celebrities are victim of racism?? they do this to make them look better. stupid article, makes no sense.

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